Cote Dazur - yes please give us your insights on cloud atlas

(49 Posts)
10987 Sat 07-Jul-12 10:20:23

I read it and thought it was the worst book I ever read. I would be genuinly interested to see what I missed as it has bugged me for years that I didn't "get it".
So please if you have time let me know what I missed.
Thanks

Colyngbourne Wed 11-Jul-12 09:24:54

I'm reading your insights and really appreciating them.
I had picked up the Fahrenheit 451 and The Bridge of San Luis Rey references ( I read the latter not long before I read Cloud Atlas).

It probably is time to re-read this in the light of your posts.

CoteDAzur Wed 11-Jul-12 12:31:46

OK, good to see I'm not just typing away to myself smile

So, the last post will be about Eternal Recurrence and those thoughts echoing through the six stories of Cloud Atlas, and various other connections between the stories:
- AE almost died at the hands of Dr HG > In the next story, Frobisher says that he "never met a quack whom I didn't half suspect of plotting to do me in as expensively as he could contrive" before he reads the 2nd half of AE's journal
- Frobisher writes a sextet for overlapping soloists > the layout of the book Cloud Atlas > "revolutionary or gimmicky?"
- AE's ship "Prophetess" is preserved & displayed at Cape Yerbas where Sixsmith's yacht is moored, and where Luisa Rey goes to find his documents
- Luisa Rey "remembers" the Chateau at Zedelghem when she reads Frobisher's letters
- Sonmi "remembers" Luisa's fall off the bridge
- Boerhaave was thrown off ship in A.E.'s journal > Luisa falls off the bridge > a literary critic gets thrown off a building at Timothy Cavendish's story > a replicant doll is thrown off a bridge in Sonmi's story
- AE's story takes place near Hawaii > Sonmi's replicants' heaven is Hawaii > Zach'ry's story takes place in Hawaii
- Luisa Rey's mother lives in "Ewingsville" > so named because the famous Abolitionist AE lived there?
- AE saves Autua who then saves AE back > Luisa Rey's father saves Napier who then saves his daughter Luisa
- About a ticket seller, TC says "the corporation breeds them from the same stem cell" > Sonmi & other sellers actually bred from the same stem cells (foreshadowing)
- HG tries to kill AE, slavery abound in their time, Maori kill & enslave Moriori as sub-humans > Frobisher wants to leech off Ayrs, Ayrs steals from Frobisher > corporation kills Sixsmith, doesn't care if nuclear disaster happens, wants to kill Luisa > old people are treated cruelly, like sub-humans > people enslave replicants because they are sub-human then kill them off > Kona enslave & kill valley people
- "Untermensch slums" > Sonmi's world still using Nietzsche terminology
- In Sonmi's world, the abbess of people living in the wild like Tibetans still pray to Siddharta = Buddha
- Meronym stayed with horse-raising tribe on Swannake Island where the nuclear plant that Luisa Rey investigated was
- Sonmi's password is "These are the tears of things" = Sunt lacrimae rerum which is how Frobisher ends his last letter

This is a significant phrase, from Virgil's book The Aeneid. While gazing at a scene of Trojan War (deaths of his friends & countrymen), he weeps and says "sunt lacrimae rerum et mentem mortalia tangunt" (these are tears of things and sufferings touch the mind, perhaps better translated as "the world is a world of tears, and the burdens of mortality touch the heart", as in the Wikipedia link above), referring to the futility of war & waste of human life

References about eternal recurrence each story:

Pacific Journal of Adam Ewing
A.E. says missionary's "gaze was gravid with the ancient future"

Letters from Zedelghem
- Ayrs' final major work to be named "Eternal Recurrence"
- Ayrs' "Bible" is Nietzsche's en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thus_Spoke_Zarathustra. Zarathustra was the founder of Zoroastrianism, which says God created twin spirits: One chose truth & light, the other chose untruth & darkness (alluding to the struggle between the savage and the civilized in each of us?)
- At the end, Frobisher says that he will be born to relive his life again, before he commits suicide

Half-Lives: The First Luisa Rey Mystery
- "Half-lives" refers to (1) radiation, (2) structure of this book
- Richard says his guru "is on his last reincarnation" before Nirvana
- Luisa says Hitchcoc's best films are scary rollercoasters that let riders get off in the end – giggling & eager for another ride. "The key to fictitious terror is partition or containment (Bates Motel is sealed off from the world). But a film that shows the world is a Bates Motel, well, that's the stuff of Buchoe, dystopia, depression" > No such luck in this book. Author doesn't let us giggle in the end.
- Sixsmith's niece does radioastronomy research at big satellite dishes in Hawaii > same place Zach'ry's people think is sacred/haunted in the end

Ghastly Ordeal Of Timothy Cavendish
- T.C. says re Luisa's account "not original, but there can't be anything not done 100 times between Aristophanes & Andrew Void Webber"

Sloosha's Crossin' An' Ev'rythin' After
- They believe in reincarnation "we knew we'd always be reborn as Valleysmen, so death wasn't as scary for us" > unless Old Georgie gets you to behave like a savage (reminiscent of Moriori's philosophy of pacifism)
- Icon'ry – diary/thoughts/lives of ancestors, for posterity
- Zach'ry sees a globe and says "if world is a ball, why don't we fall off?"
- They sing "Rudolph the Red-Ringed Goat Thief" > how the Xmas song has changed > fragility of knowledge

Although not technically recurrence per se, there is also the theme of reincarnation (with the comet birthmark), from a psychopathic murderer (probably) and then an immoral & arrogant thief, to an altruistic person with principles who risks her life for what is right, then first a reluctant martyr and then to a deliberately altruistic person with morals and principles.

... and still this "improvement" of personality and behaviour of every soul "crossing ages like clouds cross the skies" doesn't save humanity. Why? Is it because reincarnated people don't remember their previous lives, except for fleeting visions of old castles and falling off bridges?

mixedmamameansbusiness Wed 11-Jul-12 14:09:17

Off to add to my Amazon wish list as I must understand what all this was about.

Jux Wed 11-Jul-12 14:44:36

Fantastic, Cote.

Thank you so much. Have now finished the bit of fluff I was reading and off to re-read this.

(so happy about reincarnation, as I thought that was going on, but dh said no)

That is so interesting - thank you. Another one who has been fixated by this book for a few years but hasn't fully understood it.

I'm delighted to have an excuse to re-read it.

Thanks again.

CoteDAzur Wed 11-Jul-12 22:11:59

Oh and also...

Maybe some of you already know this, but the word Meronym means "part of a whole that is used to refer to the whole", like the word face in the sentence "I see many familiar faces in the crowd" refers to person.

Meronym's friend Duophysite also has a meaningful name. The word Duophysite is a theological word that means "double nature", used to refer to Jesus being both 100% human and 100% God.

All seems to point at double meanings, but I can't say why author chose those names for those two characters. Any ideas?

Colyngbourne Wed 11-Jul-12 22:56:36

Hopefully everyone you have inspired to read/re-read the book, Cote, will come back in a few weeks/months' time with their thoughts on those two names (and other responses to the book too).

Jux Thu 12-Jul-12 08:12:12

Just started re-reading last night, only a few pages in but have seen some of your themes appearing already.

Can't answer your question about names yet; having started reading it, I realise I remember nothing - nothing! - of the first read blush. <note to self: must read more slowly>

Thank you so much, Cote, this time the book will mean so much more (and may stick in my head).

Jux Thu 12-Jul-12 11:17:25

(I don't suppose you'd be prepared to do The Cornish Trilogy, Robertson Davies, next, would you? OK, not serious, but it would be seriously good if you did wink)

Hopefullyrecovering Thu 12-Jul-12 13:16:14

Cote, I'm curious. What is your academic background?

I ask because I think of myself as being a whizz at Eng Lit (and endearingly modest too). Your insight, and the power of your analysis is just awesome. Leaves me standing.

CoteDAzur Thu 12-Jul-12 14:11:09

Thank you for the praise, although I'm not sure that I deserve it. I last studied Eng Lit in high school and I'm not even a native speaker of English blush

My background is in architecture, history of art, engineering, and finance (university degree + MBA) and all the analysis I've done in the past twenty years or so has been mathematical or financial.

Jux Fri 13-Jul-12 14:55:57

Even higher praise then! I had assumed you were an Eng Lit lecturer, and this was below your usual standard of book. Imagined you slaving over Ulysses, or something!

crescentmoon Thu 06-Sep-12 21:30:48

just saw the new movie trailer for Cloud Atlas, by the makers/producers of the Matrix. wonder how it could fit all the complicated themes written of here. iv never read the book nor plan to watch the film but i followed this thread a month ago so thought to give a heads up!

movies.uk.msn.com/exclusives/video.aspx?videoid=28bok3kht

Cote thank you so much for taking the time - you are truly awesome.

Must reread Cloud Atlast now.
I really enjoyed Jacob de Z. - much more traditional story telling though.

See, when people say 'everybody has a book in them'? I always think 'aye, a book, mebbe, but not a great book'.
David Mitchell rocks!

Yes, I am an intellectual heavyweight grin!

Jux Mon 10-Sep-12 14:06:43

Cote, thank you again. (I know this is getting to be an old thread now). I reread Cloud Atlas, and enjoyed it all the more for your analysis. I am sorry, but I can't add anything noteworthy, and I honestly don't think I'm capable of having a discussion about it (not in writing anyway).

I really do appreciate your having taken the time and made the effort. thanksthanks and wine aplenty.

CoteDAzur Mon 10-Sep-12 20:28:35

crescent - Thank you for that trailer. It is clearer on the IMDB page, if anyone wants to see it again.

It looks like the directors have focused on the adventure and the theme of reincarnation, possibly at the expense of some of the other major themes. As you said, it would have been impossible for all of the above to fit into a 2-hour film. I'm looking forward to it, actually, even if it has been lobotomised into merely a thriller.

PoppyAmex Sat 17-Nov-12 18:35:28

I know this is quite an old thread but just wanted to say it really inspired me to read the book again with your notes in mind, so it might do the same for someone else who (like me) had missed this thread.
Thanks.

I have just finished rereading Cloud Atlas (and should really go to sleep!), but dug this thread out to say thank you to Coted'Azur thanks.
What a phantastic analysis of a great book.
I am not sure though whether David Mitchell is making a positive statement ("See how resilient Man is; whatever disaster befalls mankind, some form of civilisation prevails") or a rather depressingly glum one ("Man is destined to make the same mistakes over and over and over again").

The man is 3 years my junior - I really envy him his creative power although I do wonder what it must be like, living with his mind??

Oooooh, the movie trailer looks good!
It'd be impossible to get all the themes into one film, but this might be one literary adaptation I might go and see (I liked Run, Lola, Run too).

CoteDAzur Mon 03-Dec-12 19:00:11

Oh I'm definitely seeing the movie. Can't wait. The movie can't possibly have all the angles of this film, but I just hope that they won't have butchered it too badly. In any case, it will be interesting to see Wachowskis' vision of Cloud Atlas settings & characters.

CoteDAzur Mon 03-Dec-12 19:48:47

Pacific - The impression I got was that David Mitchell was pessimistic. No matter how enlightened we are as people and even as cultures, we make the same mistakes and are one major disaster away from breakdown of all law & order and a return to illiterate savagery.

The irony (and imho heartbreaking cruelty) of the book is that it ends on a positive note (Adam Ewing deciding to dedicate his life to fighting slavery, believing (iirc) that humankind can change, that we can learn to live in peace. Of course, we know how it all ended and can only "watch" his enthusiasm and optimism in sadness.

Cote, I agree, it looks pessimistic, but OTOH in every 'book' there are civilised, good people which allow humankind to go on. Even Somni451 was a good person once she ascended - her moral compass was set right.

The whole idea of humankind repeating the same mistakes over and over again, is depressing, but the world keeps turning with some good people trying their best. Or summat <<articulate>>.

See you at the cinema, then! grin

Cote Thank you for taking the time for a perceptive and clear analysis.

I am teaching Hunger Games to my very clever Y9s after Christmas and we have a couple of weeks to prepare so I decided to use the Sonmi 451 chapters as a short story for us to read and analyse.

So while preparing my lessons for this week and thought I wonder what MN has to say about Cloud Atlas work avoidance, moi? and I really enjoyed reading your thoughts, particularly the links to Nietzsche as I don't have much knowledge in that area.

Thanks again thanks

CoteDAzur Sun 09-Dec-12 13:09:03

You are very welcome smile

I was reading sci-fi as a teenager, too, and would recommend Asimov's "I, Robot" and Scott Orson Card's "Ender's Game" for your DS.

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